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Showing posts from 2013

Fun With Keywords: Auf Wiedersehen, 2013

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So, 2013. Kind of a mixed bag, huh? For my part, I started to move to Seattle, then ended up staying in New York. Through my company, Luft Books, I published two more of my novels—Lonely Satellite and Charlotte Dent—plus another novel, A.K. Adler’s Disconnected. I released a paperback edition of Wrong City. My book Bias Cut won an IPPY award, then reached #2 in Amazon’s entire Kindle store during a weeklong giveaway, and currently has a staggering 91 reviews and an average rating of 4.5 stars at Amazon. For this site, I wrote an awful lot of words about Teen Wolf, a goodly chunk of words about Arrow, and somewhat fewer words about Duran Duran than I have in previous years. For those who’ve hung out around these parts despite my erratic posting schedule and my weird and random taste in pop-culture entertainment, thank you very much.
I haven’t done a Fun With Keywords post since very early in the year, so here’s a refresher: With the help of Google Analytics, I occasionally take a look…

Max Headroom: “Blipverts”

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Let’s look at the pilot episode of Max Headroom, the cyberpunk TV series that aired far too briefly on ABC from 1987 to 1988. The pilot was a pared-down remake of an excellent 1985 UK made-for-television movie, Max Headroom: 20 Minutes Into the Future. The basic plot, some dialogue, and some footage, plus three of the principal actors—Matt Frewer, Amanda Pays and, appearing later in the series, W. Morgan Sheppard—were retained from the movie version, though most roles were recast, and the bulk of the scenes were reshot.
The character of Max Headroom achieved a level of fame—as a talk show host, as a New Coke pitchman, as a pop-culture punchline—that eclipsed both the TV movie and the series (more people know Max Headroom than know Max Headroom, if you follow my drift). That’s a shame. All respect to Max, but the show is greater than the character.

Arrow 2-09: “Three Ghosts”

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‘Tis the holiday season, so Arrow has added some Dickensian flavor with this A Christmas Carol-infused episode. It’s the midseason finale, which means: a) no new episodes until mid-January, and b) lots of exciting and game-changing stuff happens. Let’s hit it:

We pick up where we left off last episode, with Barry Allen racing to save Oliver’s life. Oliver’s blood has coagulated dangerously, so Barry injects him with a syringe full of rat poison to thin it out. “You’re lucky you guys have a rat problem,” Barry chirps to Felicity and Digg. Barry’s fun. As Oliver gradually returns to consciousness, he sees a vision of Shado, his own personal Ghost of Christmas Past, beaming at him benevolently while extending her hands to him.

The A-Team: “Cowboy George”

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So in 1986, Boy George appeared on an A-Team episode, and it was glorious.

For anyone who missed out on TheA-Team’s contribution to the pop-culture zeitgeist of the eighties, it was a wildly popular hyper-macho action series about a wisecracking quartet of Vietnam veterans-turned-fugitives-turned-mercenaries: team leader Hannibal (George Peppard), pretty-boy con artist Face (Dirk Benedict), legally-insane pilot Murdock (Dwight Schultz), and muscle-bound softie B.A. (Mr. T). Airing on NBC from 1983 to 1987, it somehow managed to be witless and violent and inane and charming all at once. For anyone who missed out on Boy George’s contribution to the pop-culture zeitgeist of the eighties, he’s an androgynous English pop star known for his heavy makeup and penchant for cross-dressing, who, with his New Wave band Culture Club, had a number of catchy hits throughout the decade. So, y’know, obviously this was a synergistic pairing.

Arrow 2-08: “The Scientist”

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There’s a break-in at one of Queen Consolidated’s laboratories. Titanium doors are ripped off their hinges, security guards are tossed around like dolls, and a large industrial centrifuge gets stolen. When Oliver, Felicity and Diggle arrive to investigate, they’re joined by elfin forensic scientist Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), who works for the Central City Police Department’s CSI unit and who is visiting Starling City to see if this robbery has any connection to a current case.
(Pretty sure we all know who Barry Allen is in the DC Comics universe, and I don’t consider his superhero identity a spoiler, but since he either doesn’t have powers yet or is keeping them under wraps, he’s just going to be plain old Barry for the time being.)
First impressions: I like Barry. He’s smart, he’s cute, he’s goofy, and he’s full of energy. That last quality is probably the most important one on this show, which has had significant problems with actors sleepwalking through their scenes.

Duranalysis: Falling Down

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After a hiatus of, oh, six or seven months, Duranalysis has returned.
For something new and different, we’re moving out of Duran Duran’s golden era and heading all the way up to 2007 with a look at the video for “Falling Down”, the only single released off their Timbaland/Justin Timberlake-produced Red Carpet Massacre album. The song wasn’t a hit, but the video, which was directed by Anthony Mandler, is stylish and sleazy and fun. Let’s hit it:
In the backseat of a limousine, a father gives a pep talk to his beautiful teen daughter, whom he is dropping off at a rehabilitation hospital. He’s trying to sell her on the whole rehab concept (“It’s like school. It looks better than your school!”), but she’s having none of it.

Arrow 2-07: “State v. Queen”

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With the notable exception of the cool reveal at the very end, the island scenes were more interesting than either of the main plotlines this week, so let’s start there: Oliver, still in the clutches of Dr. Ivo, leads his captors (Ivo, Sara, the freighter captain, and various unnamed henchmen) to the downed plane where Shado and Slade have been staying. At Ivo’s command, the henchmen riddle it with bullets and toss a bomb inside, then wander off. While hiding inside the plane, Shado deactivates the bomb. Because Arrow is a disgracefully sloppy show, neither Ivo nor any of his henchmen will bother to wonder why the plane never explodes.
Ivo forces Oliver to take him to the cave with the skeletons of the Japanese soldiers, then grows furious when he finds the arrowhead is missing. As Ivo prepares to torture Oliver into giving him the arrowhead, Shado and Slade show up, armed to the teeth, and rescue Oliver. Oliver drags an unwilling Sara along on their escape, while Shado manages to ta…

Cool Charlotte Dent promotion, Wrong City in paperback, and a new Duranalysis

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This whole independent publishing business, it's a tricky beast. In the fifteen months since forming Luft Books, I've published five novels: Bias Cut, Wrong City, Charlotte Dent and Lonely Satellite, all written by me (I'm not that prolific; I just had a swell backlog), plus A.K. Adler's excellent sci-fi novel Disconnected. I've stumbled into some good marketing strategies, and I've made some marketing mistakes. On the good side: Great merciful Zeus, Bias Cut has done well. It was an ABNA semi-finalist, and it won a silver medal at this year's IPPY awards. Earlier this month, I had a wildly successful giveaway of the Kindle version over at Amazon, during which it hit #2 on the bestsellers list in the entire free Kindle store and #1 on both the Mystery and Contemporary Fiction free bestsellers lists. Right now, it's got a whopping 66 reviews at Amazon, averaging 4.5 stars, and that number climbs daily.

On the flip side: Charlotte Dent.

Oh, Charlotte. Po…

Arrow 2-06: “Keep Your Enemies Closer”

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Roy Harper alerts the Arrow to a counterfeit-money exchange taking place. The Arrow and Diggle arrive and take down the miscreants. When Roy joins the fray, he ends up getting arrested by Quentin Lance, who releases him after he discovers Roy is a fellow secret member of Team Arrow. Digg, meanwhile, gets waylaid by Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), head of a shadowy government agency known as A.R.G.U.S. (Advanced Research Group Uniting Super-Humans, obviously), who alerts Digg to the recent abduction of A.R.G.U.S. agent Lyla Michaels, who disappeared in Moscow while on the trail of Digg’s brother-murdering nemesis, Deadshot. A.R.G.U.S. can’t rescue Lyla without risking an international incident, but Waller thinks Digg might be up to the challenge.
As soon as Oliver hears about Lyla’s disappearance, he insists on accompanying Digg to Moscow to find her. Good for Oliver, especially considering how he spent much of last season taking his partner-in-vigilantism for granted. Oliver,…

Arrow 2-05: League of Assassins

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Well. That was a sodden, limp, snot-soaked Kleenex of an episode last night. Let’s get through this quickly.
For reasons that are never explained, Sara Lance—Black Canary—is crashing with Oliver at the Queen mansion. You know what I said last week about how Arrow has been doing a nice job with Black Canary’s development? Turns out I was wrong. Sara spends the episode being a dreary, teary mess. I’m disappointed both in the character and in the show. Sara was fantastic last episode in that scene where she and Sin discussed how women should never suffer at the hands of men. It was clear she’d been through hell—was probably still in hell, in fact—but there was a grim, intelligent, world-weary competence to her that compensated a lot for the way Arrow likes to turn its ostensibly-strong female characters (Laurel, Moira, Helena Bertinelli) into neurotic wrecks.

Arrow 2-04: “Crucible”

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Oliver blows off a black-tie gala he’s ostensibly hosting at the Queen mansion to fight some crime: As the Arrow, he’s trying to track down the source of an influx of military-grade assault rifles into the already trouble-plagued Glades. Turns out the weapons are being supplied by a gang leader known as the Mayor (Clé Bennett), who rose to prominence in the wake of the earthquake. Within seconds of his introduction, the Mayor kills one of his own loyal henchmen, just so we’re all clear on his bona fides as a villain.
A tuxedo-clad, blood-splattered Oliver finally puts in a tardy appearance at his own gala, at which Laurel, Felicity, Alderman Blood, and Isabelle Rochev are all in attendance.  Felicity seems resigned to her awful new role as Oliver’s executive assistant, and at this point, I’m hoping this foul little subplot ends with her slapping Queen Consolidated with a sex-discrimination suit for transferring her out of IT and into an admin job due to her lack of a penis (to quote …

Arrow 2-03: “Broken Dolls”

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We pick up right where last episode ended, with the Hood surrounded by heavily-armed police officers. Outnumbered, the Hood begins to lower his bow… and then Black Canary (Caity Lotz) crashes through the ceiling, whips out a hand-held sonic device that emits a glass-shattering high-pitched noise, and hustles the Hood to safety in all the resulting confusion before disappearing into the night.
On the mean streets of Starling City, Officer Quentin Lance chats amiably with a hotdog vendor. The vendor tries to slip him a free dog, but Lance insists on paying. He’s actually being uncharacteristically relaxed and gracious and friendly. It’s kind of like the fourth season of The Wire, when McNulty’s mental health and general demeanor improved immeasurably after he was busted down from a homicide detective to a beat cop.
This is the first and only time I will ever compare Arrow to The Wire. I promise.

Arrow 2-02: “Identity”

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Two motorcyclists attack a FEMA truck carrying vital medical supplies to the only hospital in the Glades. Roy Harper, at the wheel of a stolen car, tries to chase away the attackers. He manages to run one off the road, but the driver of the other shoots through his windshield, causing Roy to flip the car. The cops arrive and arrest Roy, while Triad assassin China White (Kelly Hu) intercepts the FEMA truck and kills the driver and passenger.
(I shamelessly adore Roy. The kid steals a car to fight crime. I mean, come on.)
At the police station, assistant district attorney Laurel interrogates Roy about his possible connection to the Hood: She knows he’s been fighting crime in an attempt to emulate his former savior (he’s even been carrying around his own wee little red arrow), and she suspects the Hood might be encouraging his efforts. Laurel, who has adopted a bizarre new hard-line anti-Hood stance, urges Roy to stay far, far away from him: “He has this way of seducing you,” she says w…

Arrow 2-01: “City of Heroes”

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Are we all on the same page with Season One of Arrow? Good. Let’s proceed apace to the Season Two opener.
We start off on the island of Lian Yu. For a refreshing change of pace, this is set in the present day and thus is not one of Oliver’s dreary and unnecessary flashbacks to his island-dwelling days. Oliver scurries around madly, all shirtless and muscle-bound. Meanwhile, Felicity and Diggle parachute down from a small plane, then proceed to fumble their way about the island searching for Oliver. They’re all high-energy and funny and adorable, and I feel an immediate wave of reassurance that, no matter what all goes wrong with this season, these two will do their best to bring the awesome.

The Dilettante’s Guide to Arrow

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This season, I’m going to try recapping The CW’s Arrow. Fair warning: It may not work out. This site is littered with the rotting, forgotten carcasses of shows I started reviewing, then abandoned out of frustration or tedium, and Arrow, for all its strengths, is wholly capable of being both frustrating and tedious. We’ll see how this goes.
After a critically and commercially successful first season, Arrow kicked off Season Two earlier this month. Developed by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg, Arrow centers around the DC Comics superhero Green Arrow, though it’s more of a reimagining of the source material than a faithful adaptation. While it’s got some problem areas, the show is pretty enjoyable overall, with some cool visuals and evocative themes, and it has the potential to evolve into something great.
Arrow has a large and unwieldy cast. Let’s meet our main players. Spoiler warnings for the complete first season:

Lonely Satellite

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Updated 10/18 to add: The paperback edition is now listed at Amazon

The Kindle-formatted version of my new book LONELY SATELLITE is now available from Amazon. The print edition will follow in a couple of weeks, though I don't have a firm release date yetis also available for a retail price of $12.35. The wonderful Morgan Dodge designed the cover.

Here's the official synopsis:
In 1984, a global nuclear catastrophe almost destroyed the world. Thirty years later, American society struggles to rebuild in the face of widespread fear, sickness and paranoia, as the chasm between the haves and the have-nots continues to grow. 

While fleeing from a gang of marauders, Laurie Sparks, a beautiful young monk with an appetite for the good life and a knack for finding trouble, seeks refuge within a sinister subterranean church and inadvertently exposes the dangerous secrets of his past. Laurie’s adventures take him from desert wastelands to the decaying ruins of once-great cities, from seedy…

Boy, I can sure talk, can't I?

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There's a very chatty, very lengthy new interview with me up at Praxis Magazine, which I encourage everyone to check out. I yammer on at length about my books, my creative process, my experiences in the entertainment industry, and, uh, Duran Duran. The interviewer, Andie Nash, is smart and fun and generally awesome. She's also an excellent novelist--her book Thanks, That Was Fun is a hell of a good read.

As discussed in the interview, I have a new book coming out next month: Lonely Satellite, which I describe as "...the Bizarro-world version of Bias Cut. This time around, in this alternate version of events, a somewhat tougher version of Laurie is fending his way through a dangerous post-apocalyptic world, running into tweaked versions of the same characters and predicaments he experienced in Bias Cut, only in a more bizarre setting." So, y'know, if you read Bias Cut and thought, "Gee, I like these characters a lot, but I sure wish they were thrust into a g…

Teen Wolf 2-12: “Master Plan”

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Gerard Argent takes a kidnapped Stiles to the basement of the Argent home, where he’s got Boyd and Erica chained from the ceiling with electrical current running through their shackles. Stiles claims that Scott will be able to find him by tracking his scent (quoth Stiles, “It’s more like a stench…”). Gerard, who is only trying to make Scott really, really mad, slaps Stiles around a bit before releasing him. Pretty weak, Gerard. I have no wish to see any harm befall Stiles, but this plan is strictly amateur hour. Considering the verve and gusto with which Gerard chopped the poor doomed Omega werewolf in half in the season premiere, you’d think he’d at least have one of his henchmen hand-deliver a box to Scott containing Stiles’s ear or something. That would get Scott’s attention.

Teen Wolf 2-11: “Battlefield”

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In the guidance counselor’s office, Stiles has a heart-to-heart with Ms. Morell about Matt’s death over a montage of flashbacks. It’s a lengthy scene, with a lot of exposition—we learn that Sheriff Stilinski has been given his badge back, that Boyd, Erica and Isaac are in hiding, that Scott’s mom is avoiding him now that she knows he’s a werewolf, that Scott and Allison’s relationship is still on the rocks—but most of that information gets delivered organically throughout the episode anyway, so what’s the point of this? The scene is so long (over six minutes, which in television terms is freaking ridiculous) and so slow and so unnecessary that I suspect it was crammed in late in the game to pad out a light episode. Slow scenes aren’t always a bad thing, obviously, but Teen Wolf’s strength lies in its fast-paced, high-energy, wildly-careening plots. It stumbles badly during introspective moments.
As if to make amends for the lethargic opening, the very next scene features Scott taking…

Teen Wolf 2-10: “Fury”

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In a flashback, we see Matt’s perspective of what happened on the night of the full moon when Jackson filmed his transformation into the kanima. After loaning Jackson the camera, Matt sits in his car outside Jackson’s house and uses his phone to tap into the video signal to, uh, spy on Jackson while he sleeps. Nice, Matt. Stunned, Matt witnesses Jackson’s entire transformation. The kanima then slithers outside, slinks up to Matt’s car, and rests its clawed hand against the window. When Matt places his own hand against it on the other side of the glass, he sees a vision of the kanima slaughtering Isaac’s father.
Scott and Stiles try to convince Sheriff Stilinski that Matt is responsible for all the recent murders. They’re clueless as to a possible motive, so all three traipse off to the sheriff’s station in the middle of the night to sneak a peek at the evidence files. Even though he’s been officially removed from duty, Stilinski sweet-talks the pretty deputy working the front desk—th…

Teen Wolf 2-09: “Party Guessed”

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Let’s check in with Lydia, who, as the only member of the principal cast who didn’t get to participate in last episode’s rave-centered mayhem, deserves some extra attention this time around. After having a nightmare about Peter Hale mauling her in front of a cheering crowd of lacrosse fans, Lydia wakes to find Ghost Peter lying in bed beside her, nattering away about how he swears her life will return to normal, just as soon as she does him one tiny little favor on the night of the full moon.
Ghost Peter, I have due respect for your entertaining brand of villainy, but non-corporeal or not, stop crawling into bed with traumatized high school kids.

Teen Wolf 2-08: “Raving”

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After receiving a mysterious text message, Jackson—still behaving oddly, though not anywhere approaching the oddness of last episode’s madcap “swallowing live snakes, which then slither out his eyeballs” shenanigans—heads to a warehouse and stands in line to buy a ticket for the upcoming rave. Also in line are Matt, who’s getting tickets for his date with Allison, and Scott, who’s shadowing Jackson in hopes of preventing him from carrying out his next murder. Jackson gets weird with the young woman selling the tickets (he doesn’t say a word, just stares at her ominously with dead eyes), which creeps her out so badly she shuts down the makeshift ticket office and beats a hasty retreat.
It’s probably worth noting that at no point in this episode is Jackson really himself—even when he’s not in the kanima form, he’s still being controlled by the unidentified third party.

Teen Wolf 2-07: “Restraint”

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The kanima, accompanied by a shadowy figure in a hooded sweatshirt who is almost certainly its unknown controller, attacks a young married couple living in a trailer in the woods. It butchers the husband and lunges for the wife, but backs up and scurries off upon noticing her pregnant belly.
Following last episode’s madcap kidnapping escapade, Jackson’s father files a restraining order against Scott and Stiles, banning them from coming within fifty feet of Jackson. This seems eminently reasonable. Really, it seems like this was the only logical outcome of the situation, apart from maybe Stiles and Scott both getting hauled off to jail. Those two, I swear. Cute kids, but man, their plan-making abilities outright suck.

Teen Wolf 2-06: “Frenemy”

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So we finally get a good look at the missing two hours on the tape Jackson recorded the night of the full moon, and sure enough, it shows him transforming into the kanima. Danny texts Jackson to let him know he’s restored the video. He stresses that, at Jackson’s request, he hasn’t watched it. Because Danny seems to be a thoroughly decent human being, he’s probably even telling the truth. He tosses the tablet with the video on it into the back of his car.
Meanwhile, Derek chases the kanima on foot through dark streets while Scott and Stiles follow in the jeep. Chris Argent pops up and shoots the hell out of the kanima. Even riddled with bullets, it keeps relentlessly coming at him, before turning its attention to Gerard Argent. Gerard observes it thoughtfully and makes no attempt to get out of its path. Curious! Before it can attack Gerard, Scott intercedes and shoos it away.

Teen Wolf 2-05: “Venomous”

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Jackson tries to bench press far too much weight in the locker room (it still seems odd that there are free weights in the locker room, but I’m just going to roll with it) while  Danny spots him. Jackson is being his usual driven, relentless, snappish self and keeps overdoing it, until Danny’s had enough: “I’m taking a shower. If I come back and you’re lying dead under a pile of weights, I’m taking the Porsche.” Danny is very, very good for Jackson.
Left alone, Jackson’s senses kick into overdrive, until little noises—rotating fans, dripping faucets—start driving him nuts. While he’s thus distracted, someone pops up and grabs him by the throat. I was hoping it’d be Derek, as we haven’t yet had a scene this season where Derek menaces Jackson in the locker room in a sexually-charged manner, but it turns out to be Erica. Eh, that works, too. Erica and Isaac drag Jackson back to Derek’s lair and grope him a bit while Derek sits back and supervises. One of the perks of being the Alpha, I …

Teen Wolf 2-04: “Abomination”

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Chris and Gerard Argent bring the corpse of the werewolf hunter who was slaughtered by the lizard creature last episode to Dr. Deaton, seeking his advice as to what might have killed him. Deaton points out that the creature first incapacitated the man with a paralytic toxin via a cut on the back of his neck, then mauled him to death with its claws.
Stiles brings his jeep to a body shop for repairs. The muscular young repairman, who turns out to be a recently-graduated former Beacon Hills High lacrosse player, keeps bumping up the cost of his estimate as Stiles grows increasingly apoplectic. Stiles flounces off to the office to wait, muttering, “I’ll be back here, seething with impotent rage.”

Teen Wolf 2-03: “Ice Pick”

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Kind of a shaky episode this time. Disappointing, since we've been coasting on such a high lately. Before we get into it, though, we’ve got two final members of the second-season supporting cast to cover:

Teen Wolf 2-02: “Shape Shifted”

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Isaac Lahey and his father discuss his grades over a tense family dinner. When Isaac nervously mentions his D in Chemistry, his father grows furious. He rises from the table and hurls verbal abuse (bad) and glassware (worse) at his son. A shard of glass from a smashed pitcher strikes Isaac’s lovely face and causes an angry gash. As soon as Isaac plucks the shard from the wound, it heals itself up.
Distraught, Isaac hops on his bike and pedals off into the rainy night. His father, still bellowing physical threats, jumps in the car and follows him. Meanwhile, right next door to the Lahey house, Jackson hauls a bag of trash to the curb. He shakes his head and snorts in contempt at the sight of Isaac and his father. “Freaks,” he mutters, as he tosses out a bagful of tissues soaked with the vile black goop that keeps leaking from his nose and ears.

Teen Wolf 2-01: “Omega”

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After a triumphant first season, here we are, primed and ready for another stretch of sexy mayhem and murderous hijinks on Teen Wolf. Before diving in, let’s get up to speed on a few new characters:

Teen Wolf 1-12: “Code Breaker”

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Season finale time!  Lots of action! Lots of bloodshed! Lots of people getting slammed against walls! Let’s do this.
So Scott just inadvertently revealed his werewolf identity to Allison. As Allison looks after him in shock and horror, Scott runs away from the school and flees into the woods, sobbing hysterically. While for the most part the Sturm und Drang of the Scott-Allison relationship makes me roll my eyes in exasperation, the moment nicely captures Scott’s utter heartbreak. Hard not to feel bad for the poor kid.

Teen Wolf 1-11: “Formality”

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So Kate takes Allison down to her cool lair, where she’s been keeping a shirtless and chained Derek. There’s a car battery nearby, with wires leading into a gaping wound in Derek’s side. It’s grisly and kinky, both of which I fully expect from Kate. Kate fills Allison in on the existence of werewolves. Allison’s reaction to this thoroughly messed-up scenario is to get teary and overwhelmed, which is understandable. Less understandable, though, is how she never suggests that what her aunt is doing is, like, morally wrong or whatever. For the first time in the series thus far, I don’t like Allison very much. Sure, it’s plausible she’d believe everything Kate tells her, namely that Werewolf Derek is a wild animal responsible for all the recent murders in Beacon Hills, but Kate is torturing him. If Allison saw Kate torturing an actual wild animal, she’d probably try to put an immediate stop to it, so why’s she giving Kate a pass for this?
Let’s assume Allison is too horror-struck at her …

Teen Wolf 1-10: “Co-Captain”

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The lacrosse team wins their quarterfinal game, amidst much celebration. Afterwards, Jackson confronts Scott in the locker room to offer him a generous deal: If Scott helps him change him into a werewolf within the next three days—just in time for the winter formal!—Jackson will help Scott win Allison back.
This particular locker room scene, by the way, features the triumphant debut of Danny’s bare chest, as Keahu Kahuanui joins Colton Haynes and the Tylers (Posey and Hoechlin) in the Shirtless Guys of Teen Wolf club. I’m pretty sure a calendar is in the works, if one doesn’t already exists. Welcome, Danny!

Teen Wolf 1-09: “Wolf’s Bane”

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It’s night, and chemistry teacher Mr. Harris is staying late in his classroom, no doubt to think of new ways to slather his pupils with a thick, sticky layer of contempt and loathing. The Alpha, seen only in shadows, arrives to harass and terrify and presumably slaughter him for unspecified past wrongs. Just before the Alpha attacks, Derek appears out of nowhere and fends it off. Sheriff Stilinski shows up with a fleet of squad cars and surrounds the school, sending wanted-fugitive Derek scurrying off into the darkness.
The cops pursue Derek on foot into an ironworks. Chris and Kate Argent, who’ve been following the pursuit on the police scanner, join in the chase. Chris Argent hunts Derek down and shoots at him… but then Derek’s saved by the timely arrival of Scott and Stiles, who zip onto the scene in Derek’s car, scoop him up, and whisk him off to safety. Look at Scott and Stiles, being all newly-competent and badass! Keep up the good work, kids! Derek grouches about losing the Al…

Teen Wolf 1-08: “Lunatic”

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To boost Scott’s spirits after his breakup with Allison, Stiles takes him out drinking. There are so, so many excellent reasons why these two adorable knuckleheads should not hang out in the woods at night, alone and drunk, especially right before a full moon, but they both seem to think this is a sterling idea. They’re accosted by a couple of ne’er-do-wells who try to steal their precious bottle of Jack Daniels. Scott, who is unusually aggressive and humorless these days, gets snarly and dangerous and scares them off.
And then the Alpha grabs the ne’er-do-wells and brutally slaughters them.

Teen Wolf 1-07: “Night School”

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So we pick up right where we left Scott and Stiles, i.e. holed up inside the school at night while the Alpha loiters outside the building. Stiles is pretty sure the Alpha is the werewolf alter ego of Dr. Deaton, who escaped from captivity and disappeared right before Derek was impaled at the end of last episode; Scott is less convinced. The boys make a daring plan to leave the safety of the school and run for Stiles’s jeep… and then the Alpha hurls the jeep battery right through the window at them.
So, scratch that idea. Time for Plan B. With the Alpha in hot pursuit, Stiles and Scott hoof it to the locker room and hide inside the lockers, like they’re starring in a zany mid-eighties teen sex farce. Which I suppose they sort of are. They’re discovered by the janitor, who, suspecting youthful shenanigans, yells at them for a while. And then the Alpha drags him off and slaughters him.

Teen Wolf 1-06: “Heart Monitor”

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A grocery-laden Scott searches for the car—his mom’s car, presumably, since apart from his first date with Allison, we’ve mostly seen him on a bicycle—in a darkened parking structure. Good to see Scott making himself useful, especially after his epic school-skipping slack-a-thon last episode, but really, if you were Scott’s mom, would you trust this kid to bring home the groceries? You know those bags are filled with nothing but pizza rolls and pressurized cheese. As part of his ambitious make-Scott-a-better-werewolf campaign, Derek leaps out from the shadows, tackles Scott, and body-slams him into a car. Derek also smashes Scott’s phone to bits and bans him from seeing Allison, as there’s a full moon coming up soon, and Scott needs to remove distractions if he wants to prevent the Alpha from gaining control over him. Scott sees the logic in this and reluctantly promises to steer clear of Allison.
Cut to Scott and Allison rolling around on Allison’s bed, fumbling to remove various it…

Teen Wolf 1-05: “The Tell”

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Lydia and Jackson sit in the car outside a video store (a video store! how quaint!) and bicker over their rental options. Jackson wants Hoosiers, which Lydia refuses to consider. Jackson howls, “I am not watching The Notebook again!” Smash cut to Jackson wandering around the store: “Can somebody help me find The Notebook?”
As it turns out, nobody can: The sole clerk is lying dead, his throat gashed open. Upon finding the corpse, Jackson looks up and sees a werewolf—the Alpha, in fact—stalking him. The Alpha lunges at him, ripping up the store and knocking over racks of DVDs in its wake. Jackson scrambles for cover, but a toppling shelf knocks him down and pins him to the floor.

Teen Wolf 1-04: “Magic Bullet”

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We’ve got three final members of the Season One supporting cast to examine. Let’s get to it:

Teen Wolf 1-03: “Pack Mentality”

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More Teen Wolf! Before delving into a fresh batch of good-natured shenanigans, let’s take a quick look at a few additional members of the supporting cast:

Teen Wolf 1-02: “Second Chance at First Line”

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Before we get started, I just quickly want to draw your attention to something that might help explain why I grok Teen Wolf so much. Scroll all the way down to the very, very bottom of this page, past the comments, all the way to the footer section that starts off with the heading, “About the Preppies” (if you’re on a mobile device, you may have to click on the “view web version” link). Do it now; I’ll wait. Yeah, did you read that? The part about how the name of this site comes from “…a screenplay I wrote in the late 1990s, in which a couple of adorable young prep school students, armed only with their quick wits and lacrosse sticks, get stranded in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, where they're pursued by cannibals”? Given all that, is it really any wonder that Teen Wolf resonates very deeply with my soul?
I covered the main characters yesterday, so here are the vitals on a few members of the supporting cast:

Teen Wolf 1-01: “Pilot”

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For no particular reason, August is going to be all-Teen Wolf, all the time around these parts. Every day this month, I’m going to review/recap an episode of the MTV series, starting right here with the pilot.
Why Teen Wolf? Because it’s sort of adorable. Because it’s often smarter and funnier than it has any right to be. Because one of the executive producers/directors is the always-great Russell Mulcahy, who tends to get name-checked all over the place on this site. Because it’s fun.
Before we get started in earnest, here’s a rundown of the major players:

Video Analysis: Adam Lambert’s “Never Close Our Eyes”

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I’m ending my fresh-content drought with a quick look at Adam Lambert’s 2012 music video for “Never Close Our Eyes.” Hit it, Adam!


We open, promisingly, in some kind of grim dystopic future. Lines of dead-eyed young people are herded through a stark white facility. Everyone’s clad in stylishly-distressed cargo pants and leggings and cardigans and hoodies in universally-flattering neutral shades of blush and taupe and cream. You could take screenshots from this video and pass them off as Calvin Klein’s fall collection, and no one would be any the wiser.

Video Analysis: Adam Lambert’s “If I Had You”

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Let’s take a look at Adam Lambert’s “If I Had You,” the third single off of his debut album. The video for “If I Had You” was released in 2010 and was directed by Bryan Barber. There’s less of a plot to it than most of the videos I examine here, but the visuals are fun, the outfits are great, and Lambert is always entertaining to watch. Here we go:


Adam’s sitting in his living room, tweeting up a storm, rallying his troops for a spur-of-the-moment bacchanalia in Griffith Park. What we see of his abode looks spare and modest, all modern lines and minimalist furniture and muted lighting, much like his home (or rather, his “home”) in the “Whataya Want From Me” video. Yeah, nice try, set designers. Like we’re supposed to believe Lambert would be caught dead kicking back in a place this unassuming. I’m 100% certain the décor of Lambert’s real home more suitably reflects his, ah, exuberant personal style. I’m picturing chandeliers made of bones, velvet curtains embroidered with images from…

That'd be "award-winning author," thank you very much.

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BIAS CUT won the Silver medal in the Mystery/Cozy/Noir category of this year's IPPY Awards (Independent Publisher Book Awards)!

I'm over the moon about this. It's my first book award--I've been an ABNA semi-finalist twice, for BIAS CUT and for CHARLOTTE DENT, but this is the first time I've taken home any hardware. Apologies in advance if I'm completely odious for a while.

Introducing CHARLOTTE DENT

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My novel Charlotte Dent is now available as a Kindle-format ebook from Amazon. And it's about time, too.


Charlotte was a 2008 semi-finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. In a review of the unpublished manuscript written for judging purposes, Publishers Weekly had this to say:

Duranalysis Book Report: Neil Gaiman’s Duran Duran

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Back in 1984, at the start of his career, Neil Gaiman—the best-selling, award-winning, widely-acclaimed author of Coraline, Stardust, the Sandman comics, etcetera—wrote a book titled Duran Duran: The First Four Years of the Fab Five.
Naturally, I had to get my hands on a copy. This sounded important.
These days, the book is a sought-after collector’s item. The publisher only did a single print run before going bankrupt, and Gaiman has resisted offers to get it back into print. (His feelings on the project seem somewhat less than positive: In an interview with January magazine, he stated, “I spent several months writing a book that I wouldn't have wanted to read.”) The book could’ve used some judicious editing, as it’s riddled with typos throughout (to the best of my knowledge, Duran Duran never released a song titled “Hungry Like a Wolf”), but small stuff aside, you know what? It’s good. Dry, witty, and insightful, it features a comprehensive biography of each band member, plus …

Nostalgia attack!

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I've been sorting through a musty box of decaying VHS tapes of: a) my old USC student films, and b) my appearances on E!'s Talk Soup. This is all a prelude to converting them to a format where they can actually be, y'know, viewed. The above screenshot is me with the wonderful John Henson on a Talk Soup episode from 1999. Good times. Fun show, and hands down the best job I've ever had.

There's a short interview/questionnaire thingy with me up at The Daily Duranie, in which I discuss Bias Cut and my link to Duran fandom. Speaking of the latter, I finally laid my grubby paws on a copy of the 1984 Duran Duran biography written by, ahem, Neil Gaiman. It's kind of awesome. I'll be posting a Duranalysis of it here shortly.


Video Analysis: Adam Lambert’s “For Your Entertainment”

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Just for kicks: Let’s see if I can get through this entire analysis without ever using the term “Glambert.”

Well, this is new and different: I’m sliding out of the 1980s and moving all the way up to 2009 with a look at Adam Lambert’s “For Your Entertainment” video, which, for this site, is almost cutting-edge. This is untested ground for me! Exciting!
Then again, when you sit down and think about it, maybe it’s not a huge stretch to go from Duran Duran to Elton John to Adam Lambert.
Given my established pop-culture tastes and my well-known soft spot for boys in heavy makeup (ahoy there, Nick Rhodes), it’s probably not a shock to find I kinda dig Lambert. Though I don’t watch American Idol, I was aware of the Lambertian media juggernaut during the show’s eighth season, in which he demolished his way through the competition like a glitter-encrusted wrecking ball before coming up just short at the finale. (I have since caught many of his Idol performances online, and goddamn, the kidca…

Video Analysis: Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing”

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Let’s shake things up a bit here and move slightly away from Duran Duran for a second to examine one of the most cheerful, colorful, glorious videos of the 1980s. I speak, of course, of Elton John’s 1983 video for “I’m Still Standing.”

“I’m Still Standing” was directed by Russell Mulcahy, and stylistically, it’s very similar to the work Mulcahy did on Duran Duran’s “Rio,” what with all the body paint and brightly-colored pop-art imagery. And, like, “Rio,” it doesn’t have much of a plot. Here we go:

Duranalysis: Three To Get Ready

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Three To Get Ready is a David Gasperik-directed documentary shot in early 1987 as Duran Duran was promoting their funk-infused Notorious album and gearing up for their Strange Behaviour tour. The title is a reference to the band’s three remaining members—Roger and Andy had parted ways with the others the previous year, leaving Simon, Nick and John to carry the torch. The documentary captures the boys at an uneasy and uncertain time: After splitting with longtime managers Paul and Michael Berrow, they’ve made the risky decision to manage themselves, and they’re acutely aware of the valuable momentum they’ve lost since the release of their last album. On the spectrum of Duran Duran documentaries, it's not as raucous and fun as Sing Blue Silver, but it’s an interesting watch, and certainly worth Duranalyzing.